The beauty of building lies in how it enables you to truly create a dream home that’s exactly how you’ve always wanted.
For serial renovators Katie and Steven—who spent years buying, renovating and selling —building was the natural next step to achieving their dream home.
“There were things that we’ve learned over our renovations that we thought, ‘you can’t just get that in a house that you buy, so why don’t we look at building one?’,” Katie says.
Armed with a set of architectural plans and Hamlan as their custom builder, Katie and Steven embarked on building a dream custom home in Torquay at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
The result is a striking modern home that overlooks the Torquay Sands golf course. It has been built to suit them right down to the finest of details—a haven where they can enjoy the lifestyle they have always wanted for their young family.
Starting the building journey
Katie and Steven moved to Torquay in 2016 after choosing the surf spot as their wedding destination.
“I grew up in Port Lincoln in South Australia, which is a small country town on the coast and Torquay has always reminded me of Port Lincoln,” Katie says. “I had come down for a work conference the year before and just went. ‘that’s where we’re going to get married’. And so about a month after we were married, we thought, ‘why don’t we just move down there?’”
Soon after they welcomed a daughter into their family and bought, renovated and sold two homes in Torquay before “itchy feet” propelled them into dreaming up a new home that could be built from scratch.
Engaging the skills of Katie’s father, who is an architect in Adelaide, and Steven’s fastidious eye for detail, they combined their skills and experience to design a family home. Both Katie and Steven are tall, 6”2 and 6”4 respectively, so it was important to custom design a home that would make daily life easier.
“My dad has been an architect for 40 years and he was able to look at things like, window height, and was fantastic at maximising the space for us,” Katie says.
Armed with their floor plan, they engaged an architect based in Jan Juc to complete the external design of the home.
Building in a pandemic
As the pandemic reached Australia, Katie and Steven hit the ground running and chose Hamlan as their custom builder upon recommendation from a friend, who is a local respected real estate agent.
“Right from the start our brief was literally, ‘you need to communicate with us,” Katie says. “That’s how we like to operate and every step of the way that was met and that has been achieved. It was a mutual understanding from both Hamlan and us that that was required. Our new home consultant listened right from the start.”
The pressure of building during a pandemic may seem stressful but Katie and Steven say the process was an easy one.
“Every decision we made was over FaceTime,” Katie says. “We never went on site to Hamlan. So we trusted the Hamlan team and their suggestions.
The brief we made, we felt along the journey, was nailed every time, especially with the interior and colour selections.”
“We knew what we wanted and what was presented to us just absolutely hit the mark. So it’s been a surprise for us every time we’d come here to the build site along the journey and think, ‘oh, that’s what we chose, that’s what it looks like in real life’.
“We would have done things completely different for our interior if we had gone in and selected everything but I am glad we did it this way because it was a surprise and we were overjoyed with the decisions that were made. It made it really easy for us.”
Katie and Steven were very specific in what they wanted for the facade of their home—choosing a cladding in the colour Monument contrasted against a modernist grey brick and the warmth of silvertop ash timber.
“For us, we’ve always got to think about resale and who would want to buy your house,” Katie says.
“And I think that this house could be bought by anyone, a family or older couples. It’s not a far-out modern design and it’s not beachy – it’s just neutral.”
Steven said site supervisor Richard Martin was fantastic and shared their vision for the project.
“Rich was just great to deal with, his efforts to keep us informed and get things moving along were certainly appreciated and just made the experience all the more enjoyable,” Steven says.
“There were some issues that needed resolving but he got straight onto those.
“Cory [Hamlan’s construction manager] was also fantastic. The construction itself went really, really smoothly, because we knew what we wanted. There was a shared vision of trying to create the right outcome. Hamlan doesn’t do too many custom houses, so if you are doing them, you know you want to make them sort of a feature piece and it definitely worked out that way.”
Words of wisdom
As a couple who have renovated as well as built, Katie and Steven say building offers the greatest value.
“You know, what you get, you know, what’s underneath,” Katie says. “And you can choose all your finishes.
“When renovating you can’t get exactly what you want. There’s always some things out of your control.
“This house was built around some non-negotiables tall ceilings, tall benches, windows looking out down the golf course and the three-car garage was absolutely imperative.”
Steven says when approaching the building experience, it is important to know what you want and go into the process with confidence.
“You usually get presented with so many different options, however you need to have the confidence in your choices and then don’t waste time, it just holds up the process.
“Back yourself is probably the main thing and we knew what we wanted, and what the looks needed to be.”
Katie also says you must trust the experts.
“You don’t go to a neurosurgeon to have surgery on your brain and go, ‘I’m going to tell you what to do’,” she says.
“If you’ve got people, you know, in front of you who are experts in their fields, our Hamlan colour consultant is an example, then trust what she’s going to present to you.”
Now their home is complete, Katie and Steven can now sit back and really enjoy their new home.
“The massive, beautiful windows at the back of our home have presented these big, gorgeous, gorgeous views of the golf course,” Katie says.
“Having these full, massive picture windows that we look out of, we just sit here every day and just love being here. This build has absolutely nailed it and has exceeded our expectations.
“We bought two 360-degree leather recliners and we pictured ourselves, when we first bought the block, sitting on these two recliners, looking down the golf course and then swivelling around and watching TV with a wine in hand. And it has turned out exactly how we pictured it.”
Katie and Steven Reaper custom built their striking, modern Torquay home in the midst of the pandemic in 2020. Despite the challenges that came with a global pandemic, they say that building with Hamlan made the entire process easy. The home’s floorplan was designed by Katie’s father, an architect, and its facade was designed by a local architect.
They say trusting the knowledge and skills of the Hamlan team made the experience all the more enjoyable. And as experienced renovators, they say that building over renovating offers the most value in really getting you what you want in a home.
“We trusted the Hamlan team and their suggestions,” Katie says. “The brief we made, we felt along the journey, was nailed every time, especially with the interior and colour selections.
“We knew what we wanted and what was presented to us just absolutely hit the mark.”